• ERIC BUTLER

Ephraim Godwin and the Sins of the Past Part 10 - Chapters 28 & 29


Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

TWENTY-EIGHT


Cook was still getting used to his new body. Only a few hours had passed but his sense of proportion was off. Cook's original body was rather giant, but nothing like the new one he now possessed. He shook his head; this was his body from now on. A body designed to handle the power needed to exact his revenge. A body already tempered by the mystical forces of the earth and beyond.


Cook glanced at the clock on the mantle. He sent Oringo out for food after switching bodies. The boy should be back any minute. Cook focused on the thought, hoping it would spur him to action.


Instead, he stood still in the middle of the room, staring at a full-length mirror. He wore only his dark trousers, which appeared darker next to the body's unnaturally pale skin.

Cook studied the person he now was, looking for any advantage he might gain and any disadvantage that might be used against him. This body was extremely tall and long. His previous height never rose above 6 feet but he now easily stood two hands taller if not more. So even though he would no longer garner harsh looks for his dark skin, he would still stand out.


The thought made Cook smile. Standing out as a white man would have its benefits, he imagined. He stretched out his arms, amazed at their length. His hands were quite large, made so by slender lengthy fingers. Balling them into fists, Cook stepped to the dresser and removed a new shirt and vest. Slipping on the clothes, he paused again in front of the mirror.


His face was long and drawn and his lips, thin pale red lines, seemed unaccustomed to smiling. His nose was fine, delicate even and Cook wondered if a mustache would remove a bit of the menacing look the face naturally had.


Leaning closer, he wondered if a mustache was possible. This body's hair was so fine in texture and color, facial hair might simply be an impossibility. Cook studied his new body's hair as he pulled it back into a ponytail. Rarely did he observe longer hair on men, and looking at his reflection he couldn't tell if the decision to keep the hair shoulder-length had some reason other than aesthetics. He decided not to upset anything until he spent more time in the body.


The door opened and Oringo entered holding fried fish wrapped in paper. Cook's stomach rumbled as he secured his ponytail with some ribbon. Oringo handed him the paper and retreated to the corner. Cook offered a smile of thanks, well aware the boy was still having trouble coming to terms with Cook's new body.


Wolfing down the fish, Cook moved to the table motioning the boy over. The knife the boy retrieved at his previous residence was stuck in the middle. Time to test this body. Cook grabbed the knife by the handle and removed it from the wood. He turned the blade towards him and held it out for Oringo.


"I prepared this for you," Cook said, his voice dry and raspy. Oringo took the weapon and studied it. He glanced up at Cook and back to the knife before shrugging.


"I don't see any difference," he said matter-of-factly.


"And you won't until we finish the spell," Cook said as he led the boy to the next room.


Ellie Blair sat, tied to a chair in the middle of the room. She was asleep, snoring softly around a dirty stained gag. Oringo moved closer, stopping when he stood in front of her.

He reached out, tentative at first, before gaining courage and placing his hand on her cheek. Her eyes opened in panic and moved around the room, soaking up detail.


Cook stepped next to the boy and sighed. His previous master was a sadist and passed his particular tastes to the boy. Cook hoped he'd freed the boy before he absorbed too much. Oh well, he will still help with what needs to be done.


"Oringo, you must do the following very carefully...are you listening?" Cook asked as he studied the boy. The look of anticipation shined bright on Oringo's face, and Cook was worried they might waste this chance if the boy wasn't ready.


"Yes sir," Oringo answered before licking his lips.


Ellie's eyes bulged as she began to scream. Before Cook could say or do anything, Oringo's hand shot out and slapped her across the face. Her head snapped to the side before slumping down, her chin resting above her breasts.


"You were saying sir," Oringo said, his voice steady but thick with emotion.


"She needn't be awake, but we will lose a little of the potency. Oh well, it's probably for the best," Cook said as he positioned himself behind the unconscious woman. His hands grabbed the sides of her head and lifted it as if she was staring straight ahead. He gave Oringo commands in a clipped tone before chanting in a dark and forgotten language.


As the words left the mouth of Cook's new body, darkness filled the room. Darkness so thick and deep, that all light was swallowed up as if consumed by the inky black. Oringo ignored everything, his eyes affixed to the knife's point, pressed just above the center of her left breast. As the darkness filled the room, Cook's chanting grew louder, stronger, and the words took on a life of their own, swirling colors around the two men. Electricity coursed through Cook's body and he trembled from the power.


Ellie's eyes opened as the darkness rose to her neck. Her muffled cries mixed with Cook's sinister chants as he grinned at the boy.


He nodded and Oringo began to push the knife into her chest. Cook's grin bloomed into a smile, as the boy stayed focused and slipped the blade in at the required speed. As the knife moved into her flesh, her cries turned to shrieks, but the gag muffled her cries.


Cook studied the colors as they swirled tighter and tighter until they imprinted themselves to the blade. The last word disappeared as Oringo pushed the knife to its hilt. He held it there, only removing it once Cook nodded. He pulled the knife out quickly, some blood gurgling out of the slit. Oringo appeared disappointed. Cook continued to chant until the darkness receded and the two men were once again standing in a lit room.


"Study the blade," Cook said, motioning for the boy to do just that. "You see the color? It will change from red to pink to white before it turns to ash. You will use this knife to exact my revenge and to feed our benefactor."


Oringo stared at the blood-red blade, seemingly unaware of Cook's words until he nodded his understanding. Cook studied the boy. There just might have been too much influence from the Colonel. If that was the case, then Oringo would have to die as well but only once the others paid.


TWENTY-NINE


Ephraim sat on the edge of his bed. Every candle he could find was lit. The tentacles coming from the well replayed in his mind. His skin crawled as he envisioned them slithering from the well and over and into the man in his dream. Ephraim understood his loss, he understood the man's pain, but he refused to believe the answer was to give oneself over to such a thing as that for the sake of retribution. There had to be a better way. And yet the thought held less strength today than it did yesterday. If he discovered his family had been slaughtered, like those in the village, would Ephraim be able to contain his hate? He hoped he knew the answer but then again he hoped to find them alive and waiting for him as well.

Ephraim shook his head, unable to process the dream anymore...or the disappearance of his family.


He would do as he had since arriving back, search every nook and cranny in front of him. Now with Zona, he realized he might just have a chance.


She was the real deal, much to his disbelief; or at least as close as he was going to find.

First, they had this mystery to solve. What exactly had the African done to exact his revenge and what could they do to thwart it? Once they were able to put Zona's mind to rest concerning her brother, then he would request her help in finding his family. As Ephraim stood to dress, a knock sounded on his door.


"Ephraim are you awake?" Zona asked, her voice soft and filled with concern. Concern which made his chest ache, suddenly aware that another individual seemed to care about his well-being. It was a feeling he had not experienced since returning from the war.


Rising, he stepped to the door and opened it a crack. "Yes, Ms. Whitlock, I am awake. I had the most terrible dream. I need to tell you about it before I forget, but first, let me get decent."


Zona nodded and glided down the hall towards the kitchen. Ephraim watched her for a moment, before closing the door to finish dressing. He joined her at the table minutes later. She had a kettle on the fire and some leftover meats and cheeses on a tray with some bread. She motioned for him to sit and eat. He thought about refusing, but his stomach rumbled as if reminding him he had not eaten in some time.


"Thank you," he replied as he slipped into his chair and began to eat.


"Tea will be ready soon," Zona said, picking up a slice of cheese and nibbling on it.


"So my dream," Ephraim started but Zona held up her hand.


"I know all about it," she said with a mysterious smile. "I was there as well."


"Yes, that's what I wanted to tell you. I dreamt about that village, the one we spoke of earlier with Livingstone, and you were there." Ephraim stuffed another chunk of meat into his mouth and while he chewed his eyes widened.


"Oh...you mean you were in my dream," Ephraim finally managed to say after swallowing.

His expression switched from understanding to disbelief to downright refusal.


"Well, actually it was my dream," Zona said after a moment of silence. "You were pulled into my dream because of the link."


Ephraim stared at her and slowly nodded, "Right...the link."


Zona rolled her eyes and stood, moving to the kettle as it began to whistle. She poured the boiling water into the teapot and moved back to the table. She poured them both a cup and added two lumps of sugar to Ephraim's cup.


"Yes, the link. If you want to act like it doesn't exist, that is fine but these incidents will continue whether you believe or not."


Ephraim sighed. He was just thinking about how she truly had powers and now when faced with it, his first reaction is to scoff...to disbelieve.


"Well good, then I guess we only have to tell it once," Ephraim said between sips, "to Livingstone."


"We must hurry," Zona said before finishing her tea. "If what we saw was real and not some type of imagery, then there is little time to stop what Mr. Cook is doing."


"And what did we see?" Ephraim asked his voice barely above a whisper. The creeping tentacles filled his thoughts as he waited for her answer.


"Simply put, Mr. Godwin... Evil incarnate."





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